It’s a bit of a windy meander through rolling hills and around cliff edges on the coastal highway between Sydney and Melbourne, and some of the tiny towns you’ll pass won’t have much more to offer than a crusty old pub and a servo. But turn off the main road and you’ll find some of the best oysters in the land, cold beer overlooking the water, kitsch antiques, gelato made from local fruit, surf spots, wineries and hot, fresh doughnuts. If you’re hitting the road between our two biggest cities this summer, here are a few spots worth taking a detour for.
1. Cannibal Creek Vineyard & Winery
260 Tynong North Road, Tynong, Vic
Chat to winemakers Kristen and Patrick Hardiker when you get to Cannibal Creek, and pack a few bottles of their award-winning, cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay in the boot for emergencies.
2. Jindivick Harvest Kitchen
1070 Jacksons Track, Jindivick, Vic
Using great Gippsland produce, there’s plenty to love about this combined wine store, fromagerie and provedore. Fig jam, local cheddars and camembert make for a fine picnic if you’re just passing through, or you could stop for a Five Senses coffee and a light lunch.
3. Bob’s Shed Vintage
85 Princes Highway, Yarragon, Vic
Lovers of retro, vintage and Danish-inspired furniture and homewares will have a ball fossicking through Bob’s well-priced and beautifully restored mid-century gems.
4. Eden Killer Whale Museum
184 Imlay Street, Eden, NSW
In operation for more than 80 years, Eden’s Killer Whale Museum was originally set up to house the skeleton of a 22-foot orca named Old Tom, one of the many that used to live in the area. It also houses nautical, fishing and whaling industry paraphernalia and other historical tidbits from the town.
5. Merv’s Shed at Toad Hall
55 Toallo Street, Pambula, NSW
Save a bit of room in your car for the curiosities packed into Merv’s antiques. Vintage homewares, books, maps, leather trunks and blown-glass fishing buoys line the shelves, all at reasonable prices.
6. Bermagui Gelati Clinic
02546/6 Bunga Street, Bermagui, NSW
Spot the oversized ice cream cone out front and the line of locals stretching out the door. The Gelati Clinic serves some of the best gelato on the coast. Made from local fruit, try cumquat, fig, smooth dark chocolate or pistachio and take your cone down to the water to enjoy it.
7. Bermagui Oyster Room
1/14 Lamont Street, Bermagui, NSW
Whether it’s with a squeeze of lemon, topped with vinaigrette or whipped into a paté with cornichons, stop here to try some of the oysters that this area is known for. Order a craft beer to help them down.
8. ABC Cheese Factory
37 Bate Street, Central Tilba, NSW
Press your nose against the glass screen and watch the cheese makers at work and the milk being bottled at the ABC Cheese Factory. Traditional cheddars, havarti and parmesan are popular, as are the milkshakes made with incredible local milk.
9. Mystery Bay Surf Spot
Mystery Bay, NSW
Not hugely populated by surfers, if you’re near Tilba Lake and looking for a wave, come past Mystery Bay. Keep watch for whales.
10. On the Pier Seafood Restaurant
2 Old Punt Road, North Batemans Bay, NSW
An obvious choice of name but one that sticks to the facts. You guessed it; this is a seafood restaurant right on the pier.
11. Lake Tabourie Tourist Park
595A Princes Highway, Lake Tabourie, NSW
The words “tourist park” never sound particularly appealing, but this is a good one. It has camping, cabin, ensuite and caravan options 10 minutes south of Ulladulla. Canoe on the lake, have a hit on the tennis court or just lie on the beach.
12. Hayden’s Pies
166 Princes Highway, Ulladulla, NSW
Not much to look at from the outside, but it’s what’s inside the pie warmer that matters most. With flaky pastry, fillings such as osso bucco and sweet potato, goat and tomato curry or kangaroo and roasted beetroot, Hayden’s is not your average roadside pie stop.
13. Pilgrims Vegetarian Cafe
Shop 8, T he Settlement, 65 Princes Highway, Milton, NSW
Road trips don’t have to mean a solid diet of Big Macs, and Pilgrims is famous for its vegetarian menu packed full of fresh, local produce. The brown rice, grains and peanut burgers, salads and zingy, vibrant juices here are known far and wide. Don’t miss this casual cafe for lunch or breakfast.
14. Blackrock Surf Break
End of Wreck Bay Road, Jervis Bay, NSW
New South Wales’ answer to Oahu’s famed Pipeline surf break (and almost as popular). If the swell and wind are co-operating, go (very) early.
15. Hyams Beach
Jervis Bay, NSW
Hyams Beach’s reputation for having the whitest sand in the world isn’t a claim made lightly – The Guinness Book of World Records actually proclaimed it to be true. Squeaky- clean, gleaming and utterly gorgeous, Hyams’ crystal waters will have you wondering why you’d ever go overseas for a beach holiday.
16. The Huskisson on Jervis Bay
73 Owen Street, Huskisson, NSW
It gets busy, and rightly so. The Husky Pub is set right on the corner of the sand overlooking a long stretch of beach, and is the perfect location to watch the sun go down. Rooms are small but stylish, and some have a balcony.
17. Jim Wild’s Oyster Service
170 Greens Road, Nowra, NSW
This little shack on the beach is owned by Jim Wild, the 1984 Galway Oyster Shucking Champion. You’ll recognise him by his loud shirts, white handlebar moustache and dirty sense of humour. Order fresh, juicy prawns or oysters by the dozen, shucked to order.
18. Famous Berry Doughnut Van
73 Queen Street, Berry, NSW
They’re probably not the fanciest doughnuts you’ll ever eat, but it’s likely they’re the most (locally) famous. Besides, everything tastes better on holidays. Keep it simple with cinnamon sugar.
19. Big4 Easts Beach Holiday Park
Ocean Street, Kiama, NSW
With simple, retro cabins, camping and caravan sites, the sea is so damn close you can roll out of bed straight into the water. Cabins come in various sizes for couples or larger groups.
20. The Scarborough Hotel
383 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Scarborough, NSW
Just an hour from Sydney, this historic old boozer is perched on top of a cliff, with a beer garden stretching right to the edge. In between cold beers, whale watching and chicken parmigiana-ing, watch your step, the drop to the rocks below is steep.
21. Sea Cliff Bridge
Grand Pacific Drive, Clifton, NSW
You can’t miss this thrilling stretch of road, which runs right out over the water, parallel to the cliff face. If you’re driving a convertible lucky you, it’s time to put the top down.